The 2014 Academy Awards aired (March 2) last night and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o took home their first Oscar nominations in her short career. But, it is also was a big first for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American and third woman to hold the President position in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was her first show under the title and she celebrated by taking to the stage to announce the museum of motion pictures that will help “preserve the past, honor the present, shape the future of this medium.”
Boone, who has been on the AMPAS Board of Governors for a total of 21 years (as of 2013), was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall Of Fame at the 2014 NAACP Image Awards last week. Boone is no stranger to the ins and outs of Hollywood having worked on marketing campaigns for Oscar contenders like “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart.” She served as the President of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema and currently heads CBI Enterprises, Inc. that consulted on films “The Kings Speech” and “The Artist.”
This year’s nominees for “Best Picture” presented Boone with a controversy surrounding the films that did not make the running, including widely praised Black movies: “The Butler” and “Fruitvale Station.” Fans of the films claimed “snub.” And looked to the Academy’s leading Black lady for answers. After all, Cheryl is the Black representation, Blacks longed for in the predominantly White Academy.
But, as we’ve seen with President Obama, one Black person simply can’t do it all. Boone had a bit to say about the term “snub” being thrown around and just how movies like “Fruitvale Station” and “The Butler” could have been overlooked for noms.
“I wouldn’t say they were snubbed,” she told us backstage of the 2014 NAACP Image Awards. “I think that’s an odd word. I do think, however, that this year has been a tremendous year for film and in particular for African-American stories,” she said balancing her NAACP Image Award in her hand.
“This year has brought forth quite a few new names, both in front of and behind the camera; men and women who have worked for many years to get to this point. I think one of the benefits of the award season is that these new and diverse storytellers are seen now and are appreciated for the work that they have been doing. I do believe that the attention will help their career and opportunities to grow. I certainly think it has been a terrific year.”
As for why “Fruitvale Station” and “The Butler weren’t nominated: “There is not a reason,” she clarified. “The Academy is made up of 17 different branches and each branch votes for the nominations and them the academy on whole votes for the actual Oscar and this was a very, very good year.”
There’s much to be said about the composition of the Academy. According to a February 2012 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times (sampling over 5,000 of its 5,765 members), the Academy is 94% white, 77% male, 14% under the age of 50 which could explain why independent film “Fruitvale Station” didn’t garner enough votes to be in the running for “Best Picture” or “Best Actor.” But that doesn’t quite explain why “The Butler,” a major production and historical piece, was glanced over.
“I would say, that morning when I announced the nominations,” Boone continued. “It could have gone so many different ways. The talent was really deep this year. This year was particularly rich.”
“12 Years A Slave” took home the biggest award of the night “Best Picture,” and proved that we’re heading in the right direction of diversity.
Scroll through this gallery of our favorite red carpet moments from the night:
1. 2014 Academy Awards: Best & Worst Dressed
Celebs have arrived at the Hollywood & Highland Center for Hollywood's biggest night! See which stars shut down the 2014 Academy Awards and who should've thought twice before stepping out. Our favorite starlets called on the best of the best to parade down the red carpet tonight. Check out who rocked the red carpet, and who should have hired (or fired) a stylist.
2. Lupita Nyong'o
BEST. Lupita has spent awards season dazzling us with her colorful frocks and she didn't disappoint at the Oscars when she floated down the red carpet in a plunging Prada gown. “It’s a blue that reminds me of Nairobi. It’s a little bit of home," The "Best Supporting Actress" nominee said of her custom-made dress.
3. Lupita Nyong'o
The actress looked every bit a princess accessorizing her ice blue gown with Fred Leighton jewels, including an 18kt gold and diamond headband.
4. Alfre Woodard
BEST! Woodard (and her girls) slayed in this age appropriate-yet-sexy embellished dress. We love the darker color.
5. Lupita Nyong'o & Alfre Woodard
BEST! Brown beauties rocking beautiful shades of blue, we're here for it!
6. Kerry Washington
BEST! Mommy-to-be Kerry Washington showed off a little leg in a strapless Jason Wu gown that draped over her baby bump, and looked amazing!
7. Kerry Washington
A vampy plum lip that brought out the color of the gown and tousled hair *really* makes Kerry look like a haute mama.
8. Pharrell Williams & Helen Lasichanh
WORST. We're glad Pharrell lost the over-sized hat for the red carpet, but where are the rest of his pants? Sure the suit is Lanvin but that is no excuse. We think he and his wife Helen switched ensembles.
9. Michael B. Jordan
BEST! "Fruitvale Station" star Micheal B. Jordan is one of the presenters of the night and looks very dapper in his luxurious Givenchy suit, styled by Jeff Kim.
10. Michael B. Jordan
On anyone else we might be undecided on this star collar from the Gentleman Collection by David Thomas Style X JBH, but Michael "Bae" pulls it off!
11. Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
BEST! Jada gets all the applause for stunting in this flowing peach creation. While Will could've rocked a tie to match his wife's dressiness we're not mad at his relaxed suiting look. Clearly, they've been here before.
12. Viola Davis
UNDECIDED. Green is a good look on Viola (the actress wore the same hue last year when she was nominated for Best Actress in 2012) but we're not loving the fit on this Escada gown that hugs so tightly to her midsection. She also could've lost one of those cuffs so there wasn't so much going on with the gold clutch.
13. John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
BEST! Now this is a couple who knows how to work the red carpet. John Legend will perform some of the music he created for "12 Years A Slave" and the singer came dressed to win in a Versace suit and bow tie. His wife, "Sports Illustrated" model Chrissy Teigen, brought the sexy in a splashy Monique Lhuillier gown.
14. Chiwetel Ejiofor & Sari Mercer
BEST! The British Best Actor nominee looked dapper in a tux while his girlfriend wore a regal blue.
15. Robin Roberts
BEST! Roberts glowed in a jewel embellished Dennis Basso gown and Stuart Weitzman shoes.
16. Steve McQueen
BEST! The "12 Years A Slave" director kept it classic in a tux and bow -tie, with his signature glasses.
17. Faysal Ahmed & Barkhad Abdi
BEST! The "Captain Phillips" co-stars got dapper in tuxes.
18. Michael Strahan
WORST. Kudos to the TV host for trying to step outside of the box with his suiting, but the maroon color and black piping on his suit just look dated.
19. Rocsi Diaz
BEST! We are loving Rocsi's glamorous and sparkly steez!
20. Tyson Beckford
BEST! Tyson will show off his dapper look tonight as one of the hosts for the ABC Red Carpet special.
21. John Ridley & Gayle Ridley
UNDECIDED. We're into the "12 Years A Slave" writer's modern suit and his wife had us with the purple gown...until the curtain-like bottom.